Young and Hungry

NRG Opens a Second Rustico in Ballston Today

In terms of sheer beer volume, the new Rustico in Ballston will eclipse its parent operation in Alexandria. The Arlington spot, which officially opens for lunch today, will have 400 beers available by bottle, 40 by draft, and three on cask.

By comparison, the original Rustico on Slaters Lane practically feels like Hank Dietle's Tavern. The Alexandria spot serves about 300 bottles, 30 drafts, and two beers on cask. In fact, with the opening of the Ballston location, the original Rustico slides down to No. 3 on the Beer Mecca list, behind this newbie and another one of Neighborhood Restaurant Group's properties, the much-gushed over Birch & Barley/ChurchKey.

The new Rustico will be led by the same team that has guided (and in some cases, righted) the ship at the original. Greg Engert, who must be replicating himself, will oversee the beer program and train the staff on the nuances of 400-plus beers, while chef Steve Mannino will be in charge of the menus and kitchen operations at both places. Mannino has even expanded the offerings at the new spot, adding something he calls Mama Mannino’s ricotta doughnuts, which I must have right goddamn now.

Like in Alexandria, the Rustico in Ballston is paired with a Buzz Bakery, which sort of serves as the restaurant's dessert source. Unfortunately, the new Buzz is not open yet. A spokeswoman for NRG didn't have a time frame for its opening.

Now, if you're thinking this whole Rustico/Buzz expansion plan sounds like a good idea and should continue apace, you're not alone. NRG co-owner Michael Babin is already pondering the notion of spreading the Rustico love to other neighborhoods.

In the meantime, check out these previews of the new Rustico filed from the blogosphere:

Rustico, 4075 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, (571) 384-1820

...